Atonement. That is what the University of Maine women’s ice hockey team seeks this season.
After a memorable 2017-18 campaign in which the Black Bears won 19 games, won their first ever Hockey East quarterfinal series and reached the semifinals, they went 14-15-5 last season, finished ninth and failed to make the playoffs.
“It was a humbling experience for our team. We had really high expectations,” said seventh-year head coach Richard Reichenbach, whose team opens the season Friday at Sacred Heart.
With nine of his top 10 point-getters back along with all three goalies, Reichenbach expects the Black Bears to bounce back if they can stay healthy.
“Our goal is to finish in the top four in the league and host a playoff series,” Reichenbach said. “We’re as deep as we’ve ever been. Talent-wise, other than the top two or three teams in our league, we’re as good as anyone.”
UMaine has players from eight countries on its roster. Six participated for their respective countries in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship Tournaments in April. Freshman winger Ida Kuoppala was recently named to the Finnish national team.
Senior center Tereza Vanisova, a former Hockey East Co-Rookie of the Year and all-league second-teamer, senior winger Vendula Pribylova and junior defenseman Anna Zikova all played for the Czech Republic. The others were junior defenseman Daria Tereshkina (Russia), junior winger Michelle Weis (Denmark) and sophomore winger Liga Miljone (Latvia).
Vanisova was UMaine’s No. 2 scorer a year ago (17 goals, 7 assists) and needs two points to reach 100 for her career. Celine Tedenby was the top point producer as a freshman (12 & 14), and Pribylova (7 & 11) was third.
Miljone (3 & 9), Weis (4 & 7) and sophomore Ali Beltz (3 & 7) are also expected to be productive. Senior Brittany Colton (5 & 2), junior Maddie Girordano (2 & 4) and sophomore Ally Johnson (2 & 2) supply depth.
Kuoppala headlines the freshman forwards along with twins Morgan Trimper and Ally Trimper and Claire Jenkins-Coffman.
On the blue line, 2018 Hockey East second-teamer Alyson Matteau has graduated, but the rest of the defense corps returns. That group includes senior Ebba Strandberg (1 & 2); juniors Zikova (4 & 8), Tereshkina (4 & 7) and Bowdoinham’s Taylor Leech (1 & 8); and sophomore Ida Press (2 & 9).
Promising redshirt freshman Nicole Pateman was sidelined by injury last season. Freshmen Ella MacLean and Amalie Andersen could also contribute. Andersen is the sister of Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen.
Fifth-year senior Carly Jackson (9-13-5, 2.07 goals-against average, .920 save percentage) has played 90 career games and junior Loryn Porter (5-2, 1.55, .925) and team captain Jillian Flynn of Presque Isle also return.